There are people who appear in Hartford out of nowhere and try to reinvent the wheel; then, there are those who have been here for decades and value the history of place.
Steve Thornton has lived here since 1973. While we chat over coffee in the West End, he tells me he thinks he’s close to figuring out where Jack Kerouac lived when the writer spent time in Hartford. You aren’t alone in not knowing about this — Kerouac’s short stay here was considered insignificant by most historians, and consequently, not recorded well.
Documenting and remembering the people’s history is what Thornton has been doing, previously on days off from work, and now, more full time since he has retired. In October he opted for a book launch celebration in lieu of a retirement party.
Before he was a union activist, Thornton says he was a peace activist and had been since high school. Not having any long range goal, Thornton spent five years working as a childcare teacher, an experience he enjoyed but knew was not what he wanted to ultimately spend his life doing.
Upon moving to Hartford he became involved in Ray Adams’ fight to remain at 18 Congress Street; Adams stayed in the building for months Continue reading 'Highlighted Hartfordite: Steve Thornton'»
Chances are your December is already half-filled with obligatory office parties, family engagements, and such, but just in case you have downtime, here are ideas for things you can do in Hartford (mostly) on the cheap (mostly) every day.
- The Global Lens Film Series continues this month on Sundays at 2pm. Today’s film: The Parade. In Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles. This will be shown at the Wadsworth Atheneum. It is free, co-sponsored by the Hartford Public Library and Out Film CT.
- Take a free Intro to Water Color class at StudioN111. First come, first serve — so contact Nina to reserve your space for the 2-3pm class. The studio is located on Pratt Street. Continue reading 'December 2013 Events'»
The City of Hartford deemed that the food pantry run by Grace Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Prospect Avenue was not in violation of zoning laws, but the decision made by the West End Civic Association Board earlier this month to pursue closure of the food pantry in this particular location has left many in the West End feeling like their voices were not heard by the neighborhood organization.
After a meeting of the West End’s Southwest Sector, an open letter was created on these issues:
September 27, 2013
An Open Letter to Members of the WECA Board
WECA’s Southwest Sector met Tuesday evening, September 24, and discussed at length the recent actions taken by WECA regarding the food pantry run by the church adjacent to Elizabeth Park on Prospect Avenue. We were deeply disturbed and disappointed by the WECA Board’s actions, and we wish to bring the following points to the Board’s attention in the hope that the Board will take them into consideration in the future.
1. We regret and disagree with the motion passed by the Board at its September meeting regarding WECA’s position on the food pantry. We feel that the decision behind the motion was not only wrong with regard to the facts—there were, evidently, no zoning or licensing problems with the food pantry—but more importantly as a matter of principle. An organization that looks to its bylaws and finds “zoning enforcement” before “social responsibility” and “helping those in need” is not an organization of which we can be proud members. Continue reading 'West End Residents Rebuke Neighborhood Organization'»
Green carpets were rolled out this morning for people, boggling the minds of those who had never heard of PARK(ing) Day before. Though anybody can participate in this worldwide event by simply taking over metered parking spaces, Hartford’s first ever PARK(ing) Day was organized.
We were told that the sod, brought in by KNOX, would be re-used in some way during EnvisionFest this weekend. Because of the limited hours we were unable to see everything, but here’s a glimpse at some ways Downtown’s streets and a parking lot transformed earlier on Friday:
If you need a dose of schadenfreude today, walk around Downtown and observe as motorists react to the removal of parking spaces.
The good news: those parking spots are about to be reclaimed for people.
The bad news: there’s no indication that this is more than a one-day move.
PARK(ing) Day, held on the third Friday of September, is a global event with a mission that might sound especially radical to some in the Greater Hartford area: “to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!”
In Hartford this Friday for the limited hours of 11am-3pm, the temporary parks will be open to the public. Earlier that morning passersby can watch as sod and art are installed in these spaces. This will be the first year that Hartford is participating in PARK(ing) Day. Continue reading 'PARK(ing) Day'»
The roadside memorials and prayer vigils serve a purpose no doubt, but neither gets at the root of violence.
This morning, the faith-based PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing Campaign brought a more radical message to Hartford.
“If a black kid on this side of Hartford got shot,” Teny Gross suggested, treat the situation the same as if “the president of Trinity [College] got shot.” Continue reading 'Lifelines Not Pipelines'»
The high number of students being suspended, expelled, and arrested in urban schools is finally getting some attention. In 2011, Real Hartford reported that within a small time frame during the previous school year, seventeen students had been arrested at Burns and eleven at Milner, both elementary schools in Hartford. Those two elementary schools combined had more arrests than any single high school in Connecticut for that time period.
More recently, Achievement First, a charter school group, was criticized for having a high number of suspensions, particularly of those in the lower grades. The Hartford Courant reported that an estimated “11.7 percent of kindergartners and first-graders at Achievement First Hartford Academy were suspended last year an average of 5.4 times each.”
In fact, Achievement First Hartford Academy led in Connecticut for the highest percentage of elementary (32.5%) and middle (49.4%) schools students receiving in-school or out-of-school suspensions and expulsions.
Despite the poor track record for harsh discipline, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto wants to close one of the Hartford Public Schools and reopen it in 2014-2015 as an Achievement First charter school. This is a matter that is expected to be voted on by the Board of Education at the end of August.
Hard statistics on suspensions and arrests exist, but might not deliver the message in a way that makes people empathize. Continue reading 'Learning to Fail, One Outrageous Punishment at a Time'»
Rev. Henry Brown urged the hundreds of people gathering in Lozada Park to come together.
How are you going to have unity, he asked, if folks could not stand next to their neighbors. Continue reading '“We Have to Make Vibrations Now”'»
Today was the National Day of Action for Trayvon Martin, but if you missed the noontime rally in Downtown Hartford, there is another opportunity to let your voice be heard.
On Monday, July 22nd people — who are being encouraged to wear black hoodies or t-shirts with supportive messages — will gather at Lozada Park (at Seyms and Mather) to vent about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Cornell Lewis, one of the action’s coordinators, said this is also serving as an opportunity for people to “design strategies to address racism/bias.” Continue reading 'Peaceful Trayvon Martin March and Rally Planned'»